Toronto’s Finest: The Most Serene Republic

Whether or not its band name is a hyperbolic ode to their home country of Canada, indie-rockers The Most Serene Republic showed American audiences last Tuesday that they’re here to stay.
An intimate group at Los Angeles’s Echoplex experienced a night of ambient dissonance from a band of all-classically-trained musicians.
Despite many past members having to leave in pursuit of secondary art studies, TMSR still have seven virtuoso members with which to explore its experimental style. Adrian Jewett is the lead vocalist (though the entire band provides back-up vocals) and plays the trombone, Ryan Lenssenn plays piano, Nick Greaves, Emma Ditchburn and Sean Wolven are on guitar, Simon Lukasiwich is on bass and violin and Tony Nesbitt-Larking is on drums.
The septet is one of the many talents of the Toronto, Canada-based independent label Arts and Crafts. Lo-fidelity and now Apple-commerical celebrity Feist, Broken Social Scene, The American Analog Set and Stars make up the label’s music catalog.
Jewett and Lensenn, who went under the name Thee Oneironauts, originally formed the band in 2003. After a self-released EP and the addition of Greaves, the trio thought it would increase its majestic sounds.
TMSR joined its indie relatives in 2005 when it released its first full-length record ‘Underwater Cinematographer,’ which is full of complex musical structures, warm harmonies and busy guitar work. TMSR also became the first band on the Arts and Crafts label that was not part of Broken Social Scene’s circle of friends.
In October of 2007, the band released its emphatic sophomore effort ‘Population.’ The record starts off in epic fashion as a symphonic crescendo leads listeners to instrumental brilliance. A music box piano underlies a mix of clanging pots and pans, while majestic violins and horns fade in and out in perfect sequence.
TMSR are not only good musicians, but also good showmen. Jewett became a marching conductor wielding a trombone in place of a baton to signal dramatic cymbal crashes and intricate piano fills. Ditchburn and Wolven provided intertwined handclaps between its guitar work in ‘Why So Looking Back.’
The band took full advantage of its time on stage, playing spontaneous neo-jazz in between songs reminiscent of the track ‘A Mix of Sun and Cloud’ from ‘Population.’
The short set list included songs new and old.
‘Emergency Performance Art Piece’ from its 2006 EP ‘Phages’ and ‘Present of Future End’ stood out among the rest. The latter was an appropriate and triumphant ending as the band chanted in tribal-like, three-part harmonies.
The band is on the last leg of its North American tour which ends in December. With its complex musical structures, layered harmonies and sonic drumming, it won’t be a surprise if the Republic breaks out of the underground.